Susan G. Wynn, DVM, CVA, CVCH, AHG   
Veterinary Nutrition and Integrative Medicine  
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How to be an active participant in your pet's care
A nurse once told me that people now need to be 'activated patients' if they want good medical care.  I think that veterinary medicine offers great care at a [still] great price, compared to human medicine.  (If you disagree, there have been many discussions on how medical insurance distorts our perception of the  cost of medical vs veterinary care, but that's another blog for another day).  The point of this page is that there is much you can do to ensure your pet is getting excellent care from your veterinarian.  My best clients actually keep serial records of their pets' labwork and weight, and this can trim anywhere from 2-5 minutes off the  time it takes for me to review the record and step into the exam room.  If you want to try it, download a labwork tracker (make sure you use the appropriate one for dogs or cats), customize it for your use, and start micro-managing your pet's health to give him or her a better quality and quantity of life.

There are other strategies for helping your veterinarian understand your pet's current state of health.  In addition to closely observing things like appetite, thirst, urination, stool, and respiration, it's important to have exact names of foods, treats and medications.  Here is a great habit to get into when visiting both your medical doctor AND your veterinarian - take a bag that contains all drugs and supplements currently part of the picture.  Alternatively, keep a list of all medications and supplements on your computer and update it just before each vet visit - you can download one here.

And I have another suggestion.  It is vitally important for any pet owner to determine their comfort level with  the limits sometimes imposed when general practitioners cannot provide specialized expertise and equipment for more difficult cases.  Specialists are available to take over further diagnostics and treatment in these cases, but the cost mounts as the complexity of the medical condition progresses. If you believe you want advanced diagnostics and treatments from the beginning, inform your veterinarian so that he or she can refer you at the appropriate time.
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